By: Jeffrey Smith, DVM
“I can’t afford it.” The low cost of early testing is much less than high cost of acute care for a serious illness. Also, many diseases are curable or treatable if caught early. In addition, may veterinary clinics have plans to work out payments such as Cross Check, CreditCare, and Credit Card financing.
“My dog is fine—we just took him on a 5 mile walk yesterday.” Animals can’t tell you when they feel badly and people, including veterinarians, can’t tell if an animal is OK by looking at it. Animals tend to suffer in silence, and hide their illnesses (cats especially) until they are very sick. Sometimes symptoms of disease, like weight loss or a ravenous appetite, are mistaken for signs of a healthy animal.
“I’ve had many cats. Gumdrop is only eight, and most of my cats live until they are sixteen. I don’t need to start testing now.” Recent advances in veterinary medicine will allow cats to live even longer—into their 20’s in many cases. Once symptoms of disease are obvious, the disease is advanced and much more difficult to treat. Even young cats sometimes surprise us with the early onset of kidney disease or other problems we did not suspect.
“Most diseases are uncommon, and I don’t think my dog will get one of those.” While each individual disease is uncommon in total, your pet has almost a 90% chance of acquiring at least one disease during its lifetime. Since we cannot rely on family history or help from the patient, blood and urine tests remain the very best way to screen for disease.
“My cat is 15 but you never brought this up before.” Veterinary medicine has advanced, and it is now known that testing can help pets live longer and healthier lives. With the availability of accurate and affordable tests, we feel this is an important benefit for your pet.
“My dog is 10. Too old for me to spend a lot of money on him.” Animals are living much longer than before, and old age is not considered a disease or a source of discomfort. Older animals do have more ailments, and many of them, like arthritis, are treatable, and can make your dog feels years younger when managed properly.
“My cat never goes outdoors. She is just fine.” Although indoor cats are not exposed to many diseases, they are susceptible to many problems, including things like heartworm disease. In fact the incidence of heartworm disease (carried by mosquitos) is equal in indoor and outdoor cats.
“My dog is only 7, why does she need this?” Just as people begin to see their doctor more frequently in their 40’s and 50’s, pets begin to do the same at about age 7 (roughly equivalent to 49 people years). Tests will detect problems early and will act as a baseline in the future if and when problems do start to crop up.